RESTON, Va. -- Food brokers are blazing some new trails for confectionery in the territory of Efficient Consumer Response, according to a findings from a study conducted under the auspices of the National Food Brokers Association here.
ed and evaluated for NFBA's Education and Training Foundation and Snack Foods Steering Committee.
The association also gathered comments on the brokers' role from candy manufacturers.
The results of the survey indicate that brokers are taking a leading role in the application of crucial elements of the industry's ECR initiative to confectionery distribution and marketing. The independent sales rep organizations are deeply involved in electronic data interchange and computerized category management, for example, said the NFBA study.
"That situation is extraordinary, since confectionery as an industry is generally seen as one step behind many of the other industries in the grocery business," said Joseph R. Wadsworth, research assistant at NFBA, who was involved in the research project. "In essence, the brokers are saying they are ready to go and to help lead the industry down this path."
NFBA said the survey illustrates that brokers "excel in four key areas in the confectionery industry: technology, headquarters services, retail service and trade channel coverage."
For example, 93% of the brokers already process orders through EDI using uniform communications standards language. The average number of partners for each broker in the exchange of data was 13, including both retailers and manufacturers, according to the survey report. "Brokers are in an opportunistic position to promote the use of EDI throughout the industry," the report said.
In addition, 87% of the surveyed brokers said they employ electronic shelf management systems at the headquarters level. "Brokers are at the forefront of providing this service for both retailers and manufacturers," said NFBA. The survey respondents said Spaceman, Apollo and Spacemax were the most commonly used systems for confectionery.
Candy category brokers are prominent in the retail trenches, according to the survey. Ninety-seven percent said they provide mapower for grocery resets, while 47% said they do the same for convenience stores.
"Brokers are increasingly gaining influence in sections of the store where confectionery products are sold," the report said. Almost 70% of the brokers said they are captains for the planograms of grocery customers.